Jack & Jill

JACK AND JILL. Starring Adam Sandler and Katie Holmes. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Rated PG (Mild violence, crude humour and infrequent coarse language). 91 minutres.

Adam Sandler seems to be acting in two films a year.  After Just Go with It, earlier in 2011, he is back in Jack and Jill and, of course as both Jack and Jill. There are two more scheduled for 2012 release.

Adam Sandler comedies seem to appeal to a wide audience, but not to critics.  This film further antagonises critics by starring Al Pacino who they think has no right to be appearing in such a film.  He himself seems to be enjoying being in a comedy as a comic variation on himself.  Then to make critical matters worse, who should turn up for a cameo with Sandler and Pacino but Johnny Depp?  What is the world coming to?  One radio critic (who didn’t sound as if she had actually seen the film) lamented about Pacino with a an elongated plaintiff, ‘Why?’

The quick answer is why not!  Can’t Al Pacino and Johnny Depp let their hair down?

So, this is a typical Adam Sandler comedy with a touch of the raucous, directed by Dennis Dugan who has directed so many Sandler films.  And it offers the opportunity for Sandler to do a drag role in the Mrs Doubtfire vain.  Well, that is not quite correct.  Jill is quite an annoying character for most of the film, especially annoying her twin brother, Jack.  This does, by the way, offer Sandler a chance to act as the ‘straight man’ foil, Jack, to the more flamboyant Jill.

There is a lot of slapstick (Jill collapsing a pony, Jill KO’d on The Price is Right) and Jill is a faux pas personified.  We laugh at her.  Gradually, we laugh with her.  Finally, especially after a morale-boosting speech by Pacino to Jack impersonating Jill, we feel a bit more sympathetic to her.

This is an American comedy so it usually less than subtle and Jill is often gratingly loud.

However, there is quite some comedy in Al Pacino’s presence, wanted for an ad for Dunkin Donuts and their Dunkacino (which does happen at the end, our chance to hear Al Pacino rap and see him dance), having a breakdown on stage because of a mobile phone call during a performance of Richard III, then taking a long call himself during a later performance.

Interestingly, as he gets older, Adam Sandler is emphasising his Jewish background more strongly, very evident in this film.

Of course, it’s always a matter of sensibilities and taste, but this one seems a more than reasonable and funny Sandler comedy – for his fans.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

Sony Pictures.

Out 1st December 2011.

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